Apologetic Mondays: Call No Man Father

Objection:
Catholics disobey Christ when they call priests “fathers”.

Argument:
It is an unbiblical practice that Jesus forbade in Matthew 23:9:

“Call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven”

Response:

In Matthew 23:9 Jesus is using rabbinic hyperbole to drive a point. Rabbinic hyperbole is the use of exaggerated terms to make a point. For example, in Matthew 5:29-30, Jesus says if your right hand or eye offends you, cut it off and pluck it out. Certainly, no reasonable person would interpret this passage as Jesus commanding us to cut our hand and pluck our eye. Jesus is emphasizing the severity of sin through the use of hyperbole*.

In the same way in Matthew 23:8-10 Jesus is not prohibiting us to call our teachers, teacher, our fathers, father and our leaders, leader, but rather he is using rabbinic hyperbole to drive the point that the Pharisees have forgotten their proper place in the drama of salvation. The context of Mathew 23 makes this clear. In later verses, Jesus makes a sharp indictment against the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees:

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You pay tithesof mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier things of the law: judgment and mercy and fidelity. [But] these you should have done, without neglecting the others.

-Matthew 23:23

Proponents of this objection would respond that what Jesus prohibited was to call no man your spiritual father. However, in the light of the scriptures this interpretation of Matthew 23:9 is problematic:

Jesus himself calls Abraham not only as the physical father of the Jews, but also as his spiritual father:

Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

-John 8:56

As did Stephen in Act 7:2, The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham. Paul refers to Isaac as our father in Romans 9:10. Moreover, Paul, calls himself a spiritual father:

I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children. Even if you should have countless guides to Christ, yet you do not have many fathers, for I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Therefore, I urge you, be imitators of me.

-1 Corinthian 4:14-16

Peter, Paul and John all at one point or another framed their relationship with their disciples as that of a parental relationship:

She who is at Babylon, who is likewise chosen, sends you greetings; and so does my son Mark”

-Peter 5:13

“My little children, I am writing this to you so that you may not sin; but if any one does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous”

-1 John 2:1

Conclusion:

Given that these authors were writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit it is hard to presuppose that they were disobeying Christ, when they refer to themselves as fathers. Thus, the biblical evidence and the context of Matthew 23:9 reasonably argues against its literal interpretation. Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran interpret Matthew 23:9 in the same light as the Catholic Church does and do call their priests fathers with the implied understanding that there is only but one Father that gives life, namely God the Father.

References and Resources:

Catholic Resources:

*Steve Ray

http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/Documents/CallNoManFather.pdf

Catholic Answers: Call no man Father?

https://www.catholic.com/tract/call-no-man-father

Lutheran resources:

Rev. James P. Peterson

http://lutheranreformission.blogspot.com/2013/10/should-pastors-be-called-father.html

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Top Overrated Movies of 2017 

1.  Star Wars: The Last Jedi

After reading a Five Star review from The Telegraph I let my guard down and allowed myself to be hopeful  for the next installment of the new Star Wars movie; only to be utterly let down by Rian Johnson incongruent story arcs and borderline obsessive/misguided impulse to leave his footprint on the Star Wars mythology.  Needless to say: fans have spoken and critics can keep their Disney privileges where the…

2. The Shape of Water

The main problem I have with The Shape of Water was its plot. It was generic and shallow. It was reminiscing of the plot from “Free Willy”. Its antagonist was a one dimensional 1950’s bigoted stereotype that represented all that is wrong with toxic masculinity. I simply didn’t find him to be believable. Although the movie was dexterously directed by Guillermo del Torro and does have artful dialogue, it was bogged down in its hyper sexualized characterization and one dimensional characters. I simply thought it was an average movie…that just won the Golden Globe for best dramatic picture.

3. Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman was an entertaining and refreshing movie. A movie whose main character’s hope, innocence and desire to stand for what is good strongly resonated with me and across wide audiences. However, as a superhero movie, it was unremarkable. The final act crumbles at the feet of its underdeveloped villain and forced super hero tropes.

The critical appraise feels shallow at best and at worst, it feels like a participation trophy that says: job well done, your movie is not an embarrassment to the DC universe.

4. The Square

Where to start? I guess the proper place is by asking: is a movie a work of art if it plays at Palme D’Or? Or is a movie a work of art if it stands by its own merits?

The Square is not necessarily a bad film.  It has great acting and an interesting concept, but it suffers from its own self-aware vanity.  It meanders on and on in its own existential crisis. It’s no wonder why critics related/like so much to this movie, given the self-reflection state of post modernism.

5. Thor: Ragnarok

If there was ever a time where I felt that I was the only one NOT taking crazy pills, it was the day after I saw Thor: Ragnarok. Everyone in the world seems to have fallen in love with the greatest, funniest, best Marvel movie to date. The only problem was that I didn’t. I didn’t think much of it.  Only two things came to mind, actually three:

  1. What a wasted Marvel villain!
  2. Thor is turning out to be quite a comic relief character…not a compliment.
  3. Jeff Goblum cannot do wrong.

Yes, I’ll stake my reputation on that last bit.  Having said that, I hope Marvel humor is playing out, apart from a few chuckles here and there I didn’t think it was that funny. Just thinking about  it, it brings me painful reminders of The Last Jedi…alas, Does Marvel’s humor knows no bounds??????!!!!!

Worst Movies of 2017

  1. Life -Another sci-fi movie with dumb scientist.
  1. Kong: Skull Island- It made Journey to the Center of the Earth (with the Rock) look like a master piece.
  1. Alien Covenant- Why remake Prometheus without editing out its bad parts? It seems that Hollywood haven’t killed off all the dumb scientists because they keep coming up in movies.
  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi- Although visually stunning…(I love its colors) what Rian Johnson did to the Star War mythology is almost as grievous as the Medichlorian affair, which I will not talk about because it’s too painful!

Top 5 Movies of 2017

1. Dunkirk

Dunkirk is a visual masterpiece and probably one of the greatest World War II movie to date.  Its brilliance relies on its ability to portray the war efforts not only as a desperate act of survival, but also as a force that galvanizes and mobilizes a nation in defiance of overwhelming odds. Far beyond any other movie Dunkirk captured my imagination and transported me to a desperate when the fate of Europe was decided by the ingenuity, determination and moral conviction of men that refused to be accidents of history, much less their victim.

2. A Ghost Story

I can’t think of any other movie that takes its time to develop  and yet work so well.   Its slow pace offers an intimacy that rarely pays off in movies, but one that makes a world of difference in capturing the mood and feel of its characters. The cinematography is beautiful and inviting and true accomplishment in movie making.

3. Baby Driver

Summer is for blockbuster movies and  Baby Driver delivered.  It was a fun movie that not only deliver in its action, but also in its style. It was entertaining, creative, memorable and not a sequel. I may be overemphasizing it, but in an age of Marvel and sequels, it is refreshing to see something different and exciting. Cue the music and press the pedal!

4. Darkest Hour

Darkest Hour is a riveting (yet charming) take on Winston Churchill’s Herculean  efforts to save England from the Nazis and from the self-defeating English political elites.  As a film I was impressed  by its witty and fluent dialogue, which was not a surprise given that Churchill practically wrote half of the screenplay. I will be surprised if Gary Oldman does not get an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of Churchill.

5. Logan

Not a perfect movie, but what a thrilling and refreshing take on the X-men.  Perhaps one last hurrah, before Disney takes over the X-men franchise (for better or for worse,  hopefully for the better).

Honorable Mentions (not in order):

Blade Runner 2049
The Disaster Artist
The Killing of a Sacred Deer
The War of the Planet of the Apes

About the list:  These are just my favorite movies of 2017.  My list is based on how much I enjoyed them and how much I appreciated the craftsmanship of the filmmakers.

2017 Movies that I haven’t seen but want to see:

Lady Bird
Get Out
The Florida Project
Menashe
Coco

Happy New Year!

“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes. Unless a particular man made New Year resolutions, he would make no resolutions. Unless a man starts afresh about things, he will certainly do nothing effective.”

GK Chesterton

 

Merry Christmas

 

From Bishop Barron Christmas Reflection:

The Nativity of the Lord (Christmas)

John 1:1-18

Friends, our Christmas day Gospel focuses on the Word made flesh. Ancient Jewish thought found all sorts of sophisticated ways to say that God was active in the world without ceasing to be transcendent over it. Above all, they spoke of God’s holy Word, a Word by which all things were made.

Now listen to the Prologue to John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word…” He’s writing a new Genesis—and he is drawing our attention to this word of God, this powerful, musical breath of God that makes and governs the universe and speaks through the prophets, this Word that is the same as God.

And this Word became flesh. The Greek term means “pitched his tent among us,” the very phrase used of God’s Wisdom inhabiting the Temple in Jerusalem. “And we saw his glory…and he was full of grace and truth.” Glory, for he is beautiful to look on; truth, for he is the new Law. All the ways that the Old Testament spoke of God’s involvement with the world come together in this description of Jesus Christ. He is the powerful Word that will not return without accomplishing his purpose.

The Last Jedi…Falters (updated)

I am sad to say but The Last Jedi is an action packed sugar rush that crashes and burns after careful consideration.

Whereas I gave a pass at Force Awakens retelling of A New Hope given the respect that JJ gave to the source material I am afraid that I can’t do the same to The Last Jedi. In story telling there is an internal consistency rule that states that authors should always obey the self imposed rules that they established for their world. In many instances  The Last Jedi  is willfully  ignores those rules in order to serve the plot.  This is perhaps one of the main problems with Rian Johnson’s script.  It aims at creating dramatic tension at the cost of internal consistency.  Even some of the advancement in the Jedi mythology puts into question some of the main plot points of its own movie.  Furthermore,  some of the characters decisions are well out of character. This was something that JJ did very well in Force Awakens, Han Solo felt like Han Solo, but in Johnson script, Luke was unrecognizable. He idealism and optimism are long gone, left in the dust of post modernism. Old age, failure and cynicism transformed this character in something unappealing, something that is not Luke Skywalker. I can understand the change in character if the rational is well articulated, but Johnson script does not take the time to do so. The words of Robert McKee sounds very true on this point: in his book Dialogue he stresses the importance of writers writing from the point of view of their characters. The question is not what would I do if I were this character, but rather what would my character do…absent any explanation the character feels alien and the magic of disbelief is broken.

On the bright side, some of the scene are just beautiful to look at.  The concept design are in good Star Wars form and Mr. Willian score is adequate. However, the constant plot holes, fan service scene, check box for character diversity,  and over active editing damper your mood; not to mention  artistic decisions that impacted the course of Star Wars mythology.

What a missed opportunity and to think that Mr. Johnson is in charge of bringing a new trilogy…Star Wars is not in dextrous hands.

Best,

Caleb

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today Catholic around the world celebrate the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe “La Morena” to celebrate the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to  a Mexican peasant named Juan Diego in 1531.

What strikes me as extraordinary about these apparitions is that they occured while hundreds of thousands Europeans were abandoning the faith of their fathers.  Whereas in Europe protestantism was creating disunity and confusion amongst Christians, Our Lady of Guadalupe was pointing millions and millions indigenous people towards Christ.

Coincidence? I think not.

I loved today’s  Bishop Barron reflection about this feast day:

Friends, today we celebrate the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. What followed the apparition of Mary at Tepeyac is one of the most astounding chapters in the history of Christian evangelism.

Though Franciscan missionaries had been laboring in Mexico for twenty years, they had made little progress. But within ten years of the appearance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, practically the entire Mexican people, nine million strong, had converted to Christianity. La Morena had proved a more effective evangelist than St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Patrick, and St. Francis Xavier combined! And with that great national conversion, the Aztec practice of human sacrifice came to an end. She had done battle with fallen spirits and had won a culture-changing victory for the God of love.

The challenge for us who honor her today is to join the same fight. We must announce to our culture today the truth of the God of Israel, the God of Jesus Christ, the God of nonviolence and forgiving love. And we ought, like La Morena, to be bearers of Jesus to a world that needs him more than ever.

Bishop Robert Baron

Our Lady of Guadalupe pray for us!